Airport access approved

By Chris Berendt -


Erosion, wetlands and overgrowth have overtaken an access road to the Clinton-Sampson Airport, impeding those trying to get the west end of the property. A project to address that issue has now been approved by the City Council and will be considered by the Sampson Board of Commissioners next week.

The Clinton-Sampson Airport is a joint venture between the City of Clinton and Sampson County. Capital projects at the airport are similarly collaborative, so both the City Council and Board of Commissioners approve bids for those large projects.

City manager Shawn Purvis, who serves as the airport manager, said the project will correct erosion control issues, including massive washouts, while creating an access road to allow for better maintenance of airport property.

“Failed erosion control methods, wetlands and vegetation overgrowth currently hinder access for providing proper maintenance and safety at the west of end of the airport,” Purvis stated in a memorandum to Council. “In order to address maintenance and safety concerns, the Advisory Board requested the manager and engineer to develop a grant eligible project to correct erosion problems and address property access issues at the west end of the airport.”

After a tour of the site with officials from the N.C. Division of Aviation (DOA), the engineer submitted a proposed project to the Division for grant approval. The DOA approved the project and the Advisory Board requested the engineer move forward with developing the project specifications and opening it to bid.

On Aug. 20, the airport engineer and Purvis opened five sealed bids ranging from $285,035 to $474,265. The median bid was $299,805, with the engineer’s estimate at approximately $300,000. The apparent lowest, responsible bidder was Wells Brothers in the amount of $285,035.20.

The Airport Advisory Board, composed of equal representatives of the county and city to make recommendations for airport operations, maintenance, and capital projects, unanimously agreed at its Aug. 25 meeting to recommend awarding the contract to Wells Brothers.

The Federal Aviation Administration provides annual non-primary entitlement funds that cover 90 percent of the costs for many projects at the airport — that is true of the access road endeavor as well.

“We’re doing some work out at the airport and the Advisory Council has met extensively and recommends this to the city and the county,” said Clinton Mayor Lew Starling. “This would be 90 percent federal money and 10 percent for the city and county, to improve an access road. Our very able Advosiry Council has studied it and studied it.”

The cost is funded 90 percent by Division of Aviation grant; the remaining 10 percent is split between the city and county. The county’s 5 percent will be paid from funds previously reserved for airport capital projects. While city officials said the exact amount to be shouldered was to be determined, possibly around $15,000, county officials have the cost tallied at $21,752 apiece for the city and county.

Council unanimously agreed to award the bid at its meeting this week.

According to numbers from the county, a state grant in the amount of $391,532 will be used as 90 percent chunk, with the total local contribution making up the other 10 percent, bringing the total amount to $435,036.

That consists of the construction cost of $285,036, along with $100,000 in engineering and other professional services and $50,000 in erosion control measures.

The Sampson Board of Commissioners will consider the award at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8. County manager Ed Causey has similarly recommended approval of the bid.

“The construction of an access road is necessary to provide a path to the other side of the airport at the end of the runway and to honor an easement agreement granted to an adjacent owner,” Causey stated in agenda materials for the upcoming meeting. “The old access road has washed out.”

Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chris Berendt


Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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